CBD is officially EVERYWHERE. But not all CBD sellers are trustworthy. We’ll tell you where to buy CBD you can actually trust and how to figure out if a CBD vendor is worth your money.
From pharmacies to truck stops, it seems like everyone is trying to get in on the CBD craze. And while CBD products are popping up at thousands of locations around the country, even more CBD producers are entering the market every day.
This can make it difficult to pick a CBD oil that actually works.
Where can you buy the best CBD oil? How do you know if your CBD is legit or a scam?
What questions should you be asking about your CBD oil?
We’ll answer all of these questions and more in this guide.
Quick Tip: Don’t have time to read our guide? We’ve vetted the top CBD brands and found the most trustworthy and effective ones for you. Skip to the end of this guide for our CBD oil recommendations and where to buy them.
READ FIRST: What You Need to Know about CBD Regulations
Some CBD oil is better than other CBD oil. That’s just the nature of the market.
But some CBD oil is a total scam. By that, we mean that some companies lie about what they put in the products they sell. Some contain much less CBD than advertised, some don’t contain CBD at all, and others may contain additives that could have harmful or unintended effects.
In one study, researchers found that 1 in 4 CBD products contained much less CBD than advertised. Another study revealed that one CBD company wasn’t putting ANY CBD in their products.
So, why is the CBD industry so unreliable?
It’s because CBD is not currently regulated by the FDA. There are no standards of quality that dictate how CBD should be tested, what amount of CBD must be in a product, how CBD should be extracted and treated, what manufacturing standards facilities should have, etc.
This leaves CBD companies to self-regulate, which can be problematic.
Don’t worry. There’s a very low risk of buying a product that will hurt you. It’s illegal to put a harmful product on the shelves, regardless of FDA regulation (remember, vitamins are also unregulated by the FDA). The risk is that you’ll spend your hard-earned money on a product that doesn’t do what you want it to.
Why Doesn’t the FDA Regulate CBD?
Hemp (the source of CBD) was just recently legalized at a federal level in early 2019. Until then, The FDA couldn’t regulate anything made with hemp, as it was under the purview of the DEA.
When hemp became legal, the FDA started scrambling to regulate various hemp products, including CBD.
The problem was that CBD was already being sold nationwide, even before hemp was officially legalized. This is because hemp was legal in some states, and it was being shipped everywhere due to some loopholes in federal rules.
So, the country was already going CBD crazy before the FDA was even legally able to begin discussing its regulation.
Currently, the FDA is working on regulations, but this will likely take a while. CBD as a therapeutic compound is a recent discovery, so there aren’t enough studies on CBD for the FDA to create informed regulatory guidelines regarding its safety and effectiveness.
CBD oil customers and companies alike are urging the FDA to speed up its process, but it could take a few years. We’ll be sure to keep you updated right here when any changes are made.
For now, it’s up to CBD companies to impose their own standards and lab testing to ensure quality. And it’s up to you to do the necessary research to ensure your CBD oil is the good stuff.
We’ll tell you how to do that in a bit. For now, let’s look at the best places to buy CBD.
Where to Buy CBD Oil You Can Trust
We’re going to give you the skinny on the best spots to buy CBD. A bit later, we’ll tell you some brands that we’ve thoroughly researched and deemed trustworthy.
This one is a bit tricky. Buying CBD oil online is not necessarily the best option. The good, the bad, and the ugly are all sold online.
But when you buy CBD oil online, you have access to a lot of information, which will allow you to make an informed choice.
When you shop online, you can look up customer reviews, official reviews, independent lab tests, hemp sourcing, and more. You can also contact customer service to ask detailed questions about your reasons for buying CBD. (For example, you could ask which CBD oil is the best for sleep. If the representative doesn’t seem knowledgeable, you should move on to a different brand).
What factors should you look for when shopping for CBD oil online? We’re going to cover that in the next section of this guide.
Chain Grocery Stores
Chain supermarkets like Kroger, Walmart, Sprouts, and many others stock trustworthy CBD oil.
These companies are corporate giants with reputations to uphold, which means they only work with brands that make them look good in return. Plus, they have the internal resources to do the research and testing required to confirm the efficacy of their products.
When Kroger expanded its CBD offering to nearly 1000 locations, it reassured customers, saying “Our limited selection of hemp-derived CBD topical products is from suppliers that have been reviewed for quality and safety.”
Not only are you getting a trusted CBD brand when you buy from one of these chains, but you’re also getting an extra round of testing and quality control from the retailer.
The only downside is that you’ll pay a bit more than the online price.
Some of the best brands work with chain retailers, such as PlusCBD and NuLeaf Naturals.
If your local supermarket is not a large chain, we would not recommend buying CBD from its shelves. These supermarkets don’t have the same agreements with manufacturers or accountability, so the quality of their CBD may be a mystery even to them.
Much like chain grocery stores, chain pharmacies like Walgreen’s and CVS carry high-quality CBD oil.
These brands are highly accountable to their customers and would face scrutiny and serious backlash if they were found to be selling ineffective or harmful supplements.
As such, they ensure their CBD products are properly tested and honestly labeled.
There’s also the added benefit of being able to ask the pharmacist on staff for assistance. If you are currently taking any medication, you must check with a pharmacist or your doctor before taking any new supplement, including CBD oil. By buying at a pharmacy, you can kill two birds with one stone.
Stores that specialize in supplements make a living by separating the wheat from the chaff. As we mentioned before, CBD and many other supplements, like vitamins, are unregulated. When you buy your products from a supplement shop, you trust these companies to stock the good stuff so you don’t have to do the research yourself.
Supplement shops like GNC and The Vitamin Shoppe stock a number of CBD products from a decent spread of brands. When you shop at one of these locations, you’ll benefit from an informed and friendly staff as well as a good selection of trustworthy products. But, you’ll probably pay a premium price.
Dispensaries are marijuana shops that operate in states where marijuana has been legalized. Dispensaries operate under strict government controls, and they need a special license to sell their products. These licenses are coveted and very difficult to procure.
It’s safe to say that a dispensary would never do anything to put their license at risk, so you can trust the products that they sell as safe and reliable.
The staff at dispensaries are very knowledgeable and will be able to answer all of your questions about CBD. The staff won’t have any bias about brands (besides personal preference), and you’ll have a number of options to choose from.
We put CBD stores last on our list, because while you can get good CBD oil at some, they are not very reliable overall.
This is because most physical CBD stores are run by CBD brands and sell an exclusive line of products. While the staff might be highly knowledgeable about CBD, you can hardly trust them to be unbiased.
Before you buy from a CBD store, you need to research the store and the brand it represents to find out if it’s trustworthy. When you buy from a major retailer or pharmacy, you can expect the brands they sell to have been vetted previously.
Where NOT to Buy CBD Oil
Buying CBD oil from one of the following places is the best way to get conned out of your cash.
Fill up on gas, not CBD oil. Gas stations have no qualms about selling low-quality supplements, as their reputation doesn’t hinge on these products.
They don’t make much money selling gas, so they’re probably buying the cheapest CBD and marking it up to maximize profit.
Any way you think about it, the customer loses.
Pretty much the same argument as gas stations is true here, especially if these stores are privately owned. Chains might be slightly more reliable, but private shops are buying their supply online and marking it up to sell to you.
They’re looking for the biggest possible mark-up, meaning they’re shopping for cheap (and likely low-quality) products to put on their shelves.
When we say countertops, we mean the checkout counters at various stores where you’re enticed to add to your basket by candy, gift cards, toys, and now, CBD.
CBD might be lingering on counters at your video store, bowling alley, hobby shop, or craft store.
When a store tempts you to make an impulse buy, they are thinking of profit more than your well being. And that’s probably what they were thinking when choosing a CBD brand to feature as well.
Head shops sell smoking and cultivation accessories for hemp and marijuana. They’re often tourist traps in cities, and most can’t be trusted to sell reliable consumable products.
If you’re looking for a pipe to smoke your CBD flower, a head shop is fine. But don’t buy your CBD oil there.
How to Shop for the Best CBD Oil
Now you know where to go to buy CBD oil, but how do you choose the right product? That’s right, there are hundreds of different CBD oil brands, flavors, strengths, and types. Here’s what you should look for to find the best.
Independent Lab Testing
The most important factor to look for in a CBD company is independent (3rd-party) lab testing. Basically, this means that a company is giving its CBD extract to an unbiased lab to test for purity, concentration of cannabinoids, and levels of any harmful solvents or heavy metals.
The results of these tests, called a certificate of analysis (COA), should be listed on the brand’s website and easy to find.
If a company makes it difficult to access these results or doesn’t do independent testing, consider it a deal-breaker. A lack of testing almost always means the brand doesn’t want you to know what’s really inside the bottle.
The test results should be easy to read. A simple list of ingredients will be listed on one side, and on the other, a percentage indicating the content per milliliter of extract. You might also see a measure of milligrams per milliliter. Sometimes this info is represented using a pie chart.
There will likely be a long list of ingredients, because most CBD contains a range of cannabinoids, or compounds from cannabis (to learn more about what’s inside your CBD oil, read up on full spectrum CBD and CBD isolate).
Make sure to pay special attention to these:
Some apples are crisper than others, and some tomatoes are juicier. It all depends on the quality of the plant and the care that was put into its cultivation.
The same goes for hemp, the source of CBD oil. Knowing where the hemp that was used to make your CBD oil comes from is important. You wouldn’t eat food that was grown next to a sewage dump, and you don’t want to take CBD made from bad hemp.
Similar to lab testing, the hemp a company uses should be front-and-center on its website. The best brands are proud of their hemp and can’t talk enough about it.
Brands that don’t mention their hemp probably don’t want you to know where it comes from, and that’s a bad sign.
Trustworthy brands source their hemp from domestically grown hemp. But the best brands grow their own plants and have total control over the production and cultivation process from seed to shelf.
These dedicated companies control their own land and processing facilities, meaning they’re in it for the long haul. Most other companies buy pre-extracted CBD from mass producers and they stick their own label on the bottle.
We’re not saying this CBD is bad, but companies that buy bulk oil are more focused on marketing than developing great CBD.
Seed-to-shelf companies work hard developing CBD-rich hemp strains to give you the most bang for your buck. We’ll introduce you to some of these CBD oil brands in the next section.
CBD Extraction Method
Once hemp is grown and harvested, the CBD has to be taken out of it—and this is a very difficult thing to do. Extraction requires high-tech and expensive machinery and highly-trained staff.
For this reason, some companies outsource their extraction. Others do it in-house. Both are fine, as long as the quality is up to snuff. Poor extraction can have consequences. At best, the CBD and beneficial cannabinoids will be destroyed in the process. At worst, harmful solvents can end up in your CBD oil.
Some extraction methods are safe and effective. Others aren’t. We recommend choosing a CBD company that uses one of the following extraction techniques:
You should be able to find information about CBD extraction on a company’s website. If you’re having trouble, contact their customer service line.
Checking customer reviews is an easy way to see how a product has impacted others. Make sure to check for reviews on and off the CBD brand’s website.
Some reviews won’t be very reliable. For example, those saying that the product helped them or didn’t help are not indicative of the CBD oil’s quality (unless everyone is saying that the product doesn’t work). Search for expert reviews from people who understand a bit more about CBD and what responsible companies do.
You can find reviews like that on our site.
Also, search for reviews by customers who have similar issues as you do. For example, if you have joint pain, search for reviews from customers who took CBD oil for pain. The right dose and product for one condition may not be the same for another.
Who’s in charge here? You should be able to put a face and a name on the CBD oil you’re buying. If you don’t know who’s making your product, it means the leadership doesn’t want to be accountable.
Or worse, it means the leadership has been associated with bad practices before and doesn’t want you to know about it.
The “About” page on any CBD site should tell you about the brand’s story and origins. You might be able to find leadership info on the contact page or corporate page as well.
A company is only as reliable as its customer service. Give your brand a call or send an email and ask some questions about the product. You could ask about the hemp source, the concentrations of cannabinoids in their CBD oil, the company leadership, or dosing recommendations.
If the service rep is helpful and knowledgeable, it means the company cares enough to properly educate their staff. This also means that they care about their product and understand it a great deal.
If the service staff is not confident in their answers, they may have been outsourced or hired to deal only with sales inquiries. This is an indication that the company is more interested in cutting costs than delivering quality. If they’re cutting service costs, then what else are they cutting?
Where to Buy CBD Oil: The Best CBD Brands and Where to Find Them
We know what you’re thinking: Getting your hands on the best CBD oil takes a lot of work! But there’s some good news. If you don’t have the time or energy to do all the research yourself, why not let us do it for you? We’ve tested and vetted the top CBD brands and have found the ones that make the purist, richest, and most trustworthy CBD oil. These are the brands that made the cut.
Where to Buy NuLeaf Naturals CBD Oil: Sprouts Farmers Market, 1500+ retail locations, nuleafnaturals.com
As one of the most respected and longest-running CBD brands, it’s no wonder that NuLeaf Naturals is first on our list.
NuLeaf doesn’t get distracted with flashy marketing, wacky edibles, or strange flavors. It only makes one product—CBD oil. It focuses on making the best CBD oil from its own domestic hemp strain, and that’s it.
A seed-to-shelf operation, NuLeaf’s CBD oil is consistently a top pick. Its hemp is rich in phytocannabinoids and unique to NuLeaf products.
NuLeaf also uses a special C02 extraction method that does an exceptional job of protecting the delicate cannabinoids and terpenes in their hemp. By combining supercritical and subcritical extraction techniques, NuLeaf is able to pull CBD from hemp without using heat.
NuLeaf’s CBD oil has garnered excellent reviews from customers and industry experts.Learn more about NuLeaf Naturals in our full review.
Where to Buy Charlotte’s Web CBD Oil: CVS, Kroger, 8000+ retail locations,charlottesweb.com
Charlotte’s Web is one of the most successful CBD brands on the market thanks to its positive messaging, seed-to-shelf production, and dedication to quality.
One of the ways Charlotte’s Web has succeeded is by maintaining extremely high standards via in-house and outsourced testing. The company tests its water and soil even before planting its proprietary hemp strain. Charlotte’s Web continues to do this throughout the year to make sure cultivation conditions are just right. When the hemp is finally planted, the plants are tested for quality every five days. The result is a highly potent strain of hemp that has customers and investors talking.
Charlotte’s Web doesn’t stop with high-quality CBD oil. They also produce acclaimed lotions, balms, gummies, and capsules.
Read our full review of Charlotte’s Web to find out more about its CBD oil and the incredible story of its founders.
Where to Buy PlusCBD Oil: Kroger, Winn-Dixie, CVS, The Vitamin Shoppe, 5000+ retail locations, pluscbdoil.com
PlusCBD is an award-winning CBD company. It offers several products that rank #1 among American consumers.
PlusCBD doesn’t grow its own hemp, but it ensures complete transparency from seed to shelf, and its hemp is grown using organic farming methods.
What makes PlusCBD special is that it’s backed by real science. The company conducts groundbreaking research to help further the entire industry, and has a robust education program that reaches out to those in need. PlusCBD claims to be in the business to do genuine good, and their investments confirm this.
CBDPlus offers a range of products including a number of CBD oil blends, gummies, capsules, skin serums, and an award-winning roll-on for pain.
Where to Buy Green Roads CBD Oil: 5000+ retail locations, greenroads.com
Green Roads is another long-established CBD brand, having been founded in 2011. Before most other CBD companies had even been conceptualized, Green Roads was already innovating and creating the groundwork for many CBD products that are popular today.
Green Roads was established before anyone knew what CBD was, so the company excels at education and service. It also has extremely high standards for testing and transparency. One of the things we love about Green Roads is that its products are formulated by a licensed pharmacist. Green Roads was the first in the country to have pharmacist-formulated CBD, setting a very high standard for the future of the industry.
Of all of our recommended CBD brands, Green Roads has the most diverse product line. Customers can choose from both broad-spectrum and isolate CBD products as well as lotions, beverages, edibles, and more. Green Roads also has more variety in its CBD oil line. They offer a flagship broad-spectrum CBD oil as well as CBD terpenes oils with natural hemp flavors.
Get our take on all of Green Roads products and more in our full Green Roads review.
Are You Ready to Buy CBD Oil?
Once you’ve chosen where to buy CBD oil, all you have to do is pick the best strength, flavor, and size for your lifestyle. Don’t be afraid to try some different products and brands to find the right fit. CBD oil is safe to take even in high doses, and it has shown no risk of being dependency-forming in studies.
If you don’t want to spend time or money trying different products, learn about the CBD oil you need in just a few minutes in our guide to CBD dosage.
Now that you’re on the right track to finding where to buy CBD oil, you can’t go wrong. Happy shopping!